1 Nov 2014

October, another good month


Pineapple sage - both leaves and flowers are edible.

Amazing. Only two months left until the end of 2014 and I've spent a chunk of yesterday morning watching a bee gathering nectar and pollen in warm sunshine. We've had the best of both worlds as autumn has surely arrived with wind, rain and slowly falling leaves but late summer is also just clinging on. I haven't even thought about putting the heating on yet or switching over to my winter duvet. October has been pretty decent, weather wise.

The morning's walk through the garden had the feel of a misty autumn morning, the sun not yet risen and the veg leaves silvered with dew. The spider webs seem to have disappeared for now, thank goodness.  I still haven't quite recovered from walking through a giant spider web spun between a tall privet hedge and my car. There was a delayed moment of realisation (and, yes, panic) when I saw a huge garden spider hanging from my hair close in front of my face. It was worse when it dropped and I couldn't find it as I was just off on a long journey. Hallowe'en, Shallowe'en - been there, done it.

Apparently a winter Pimms is available. Borage, the perfect accessory.

So, October finished on a gift of a warm sunny day. The soil in the garden is damp, making weeding a bit sticky (but quite achievable - take that, chickweed!) and the mild temperatures have prompted lots of growth, mostly flowers and herbs kicking out one last flush.  Most of the leaves have dropped from the fruit trees, the best borage plants ever are flowering in the garden - as are other edible flowers such as violets and edible daisies (Bellis perennis), and I'm still picking a few courgettes. I'm still waiting for signs of any saffron crocus flowers, so far only leaves but I can be patient. And the nasturtiums … more floriferous than ever. By the way, nasturtium flowers look and taste very nice with home-made mushroom soup.



I've lifted the last of the tomato plants and discovered the parsley sown companionably underneath - still tiny, will be lovely for next year. Likewise, I removed a courgette whose trunk had snapped and found the Cavolo Nero kale plants I'd sown from seed. I'd been wondering what had  happened to those; it's what happens when you sow to fill the gaps and don't expect your experimental Ikea bag grown courgettes (more of which later) to suddenly take off when planted out late in the season. (These are the ones that are still producing fruit now in November.)

A few bush bean pods were left for next year's seeds. The weather has been dry enough to leave them on the plant but I think now would be a good time to pull the plants out and hang the pods up to dry, leaving them any longer would be chancing it seeing as tiny snails are bulking up on the green buffet in my garden.

The big surprise of yesterday was seeing the first head on my broccoli plants. I was a bit slack with my brassicas this year, sowing seeds into modules in mid-May and then not potting the plugs on until end of June. These little plants then didn't go into the veg patch until early August. Privately thinking I'd left it a bit late, I remained hopeful and the weather was kind. Looks like I'll have broccoli after all which is great as it's a constant on my shopping list.  I've grown several types as they were labelled 'Autumn' broccoli, 'Christmas broccoli', 'Early Spring' broccoli - so, experimentation and weather notwithstanding, that should keep me in greens for a bit. The first head was cooked and eaten last night with a dusting of parmesan; it was sublime.

Mm-mmm! 


Not so good in the garden are sightings of Rosemary Beetle.  I don't even have to spot the culprit to know that they're there as the tops of the rosemary leaves are all munched. This does not make for a happy gardener as I rely on my herbs throughout the year, especially the evergreen ones in the winter months. At this time of year, the adults have mated, the larvae have hatched and all will feed on the rosemary foliage until spring when the larvae will drop into the soil, pupate and emerge in early summer to start the cycle again.  Can I offer some advice?  Squish with extreme prejudice. It's hard because they're very handsome beetles but the alternative is dead plants or pesticides. And I say no to both those options; they have no natural predators.

The beetles lurk on the stems but have a preference for the shoot tips as you can see.


Moving into November, I'm choosing seeds for next year and sowing sweet peas and erigeron (daisies). Next week I'll dig out my seed packets and have look at any veg that I can start off now - peas and broad beans, I think - that can sit the winter out in a cold greenhouse or under polythene. The benefit of starting hardier seeds off now is that a strong root system will develop even though the top of the plant is doing very little. Result: earlier crops. We'll see.

A Polka raspberry, still producing just a few berries. This may be the last.



Joining in with the Garden Share Collective where garden bloggers from around the world share news of their food growing gardens.


28 comments:

  1. As you rightly say, and show here, another good month indeed. I agree what you say about rosemary beetles as I sadly lost my rosemary plant to them last year.
    I found a handful of hidden raspberries yesterday which were my last ones, although they didn't look quite as good as your one.
    It looks like the weather will be noticeably cooler next week, so I think that change is on the way sadly.
    Flighty xx

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    1. Sorry to hear about your lost rosemary bush, Flighty. I shall have to be more vigilant because I've only found a few but they're pretty voracious! The date will show that I'm replying very belatedly to comments on this post so I can tell you that my Polka raspberries are still fruiting! I had another handful today - and very appreciated they were too!

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  2. How nice to rediscover some hidden gems beneath the old plants. Courgettes in November must be fairly unusual. BTW chickweed is edible, and allegedly a fine salad ingredient!
    I'm not convinced that over-wintering Broad Beans or Peas is worthwhile. I leave mine till Spring.

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    1. I think I'll stick with the more familiar salad ingredients, Mark! Dare I say in print that I have a feeling that this winter will be mild once again? For that reason, I'm sowing broad beans for overwintering - if it doesn't work or isn't worth it, then I'll know for the future. ;)

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  3. I like your idea with the pea seeds, might try that too. It's amazing how quickly this year has gone by, but what a good one for a gardener!

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    1. It's very mild still where I am but the lower light levels mean that the garden is dying off as expected. I'm hoping that over wintered plants will grow away strongly in the spring and it feels a good year for an experiment!

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  4. Overall it looks like you've had a good harvest again this month. I'm glad October turned out to be a good one, and long may that trend continue, hopefully for the rest of the winter and lo and behold it's warm spring and summer again :)

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    1. I was thinking only today that it's less than four weeks until the winter solstice and the days start to lengthen. Hopefully another mild winter is on the cards!

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  5. I've never heard of rosemary beetle, maybe (fingers crossed) we don't have it here. Rosemary is one of the few indestructible in my garden. That and agapanthus. Can't kill 'em.
    That broccoli looks excellent. Here I've been existing off side shoots for a long time, so a nice head of broccoli like that is very tempting.

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    1. They originate from Southern Europe so I hope that your garden is safe - from these pests at least! I'm sure you've got beasties that could give our beetles a good scare! Agapanthus is my mum's favourite flower; I planted 3 in her garden a couple of years ago so I hope that they are indestructible! My broccoli side shoots are s-l-o-w-l-y maturing and may stop over winter to start again in spring. (I'll have to start eating the leaves!)

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  6. Eek, I'd be panicking about that spider as well. Your broccoli looks fantastic. I've started looking through the seed catalogue as well, it's a treat to plan for next year. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks, CJ. The seed catalogues are so tempting and I've already seen some cos lettuce that I want to try out next year. That and LOTS of flowers! xx

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  7. Gorgeous images and how brilliant to be still cropping courgettes. I had an almost identical spider experience as you and had to take a bamboo stick into the garden every morning to avoid a repeat.

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    1. Thanks, I have a lot of help from nature with my pics! Good idea to take a handy bamboo stick into the garden, I definitely need one of those!

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  8. Just think how that spider must have felt. As for pest we seem to have lots of migrants arriving with no natural predators that is a worry.

    Just a word about pineapple sage - it isn't hardy. We've lost two, one left out for winter and one pit in the cold greenhouse, IF you can get sine cuttings going indoors as an insurance policy

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    1. I'm usually very kind to spiders, Sue - if I find them indoors, I carefully pop them outside where I'm sure they'll be happier. I remember you mentioning the hardiness rating of pineapple sage last year and was a bit worried that it might be a goner but it came back big and strong. I think with the mild winter and the more southern location, I got away with it. I want to move it this year so will take some cuttings as a precaution. Thanks for reminding me!

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  9. Well apart from the beetles everything is going smoothly! The weather has been mild hasn't it, so many plants are confused as are animals. The bulbs are coming up in my garden....iris! And tiny hogs are everywhere.That borage and the pineapple sage do look lovely....I love edible plants.xxx

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    1. I'm replying late to all my comments :) so yes, October was quite wonderful but a bit of a distant memory now! With the cold and damp starting, I'm now looking forward to next spring rather than looking back to summer! I've been keeping up with your tales of hedgehog babies, so sweet, where are their mums I wonder? I'd like to plant a completely edible ornamental garden, would be so much fun!

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  10. Aren't polka raspberries amazing? We're still picking them, and they have been going since mid July. The sight of your broccoli almost persuades me to have another go next year, but unless I come up with a practical yet attractive way to cover them I will continue to shun. Mind you, I did buy some sprouting broccoli plugs, disappointing quality so I am not expecting much, but hey, I might get lucky like you did with your courgette! I won't be autumn sowing, and seed sorting is my January job, but I should be able to make parsley pesto if I get a move on, and there is still beetroot to pick, and those Jerusalem artichokes... Good luck with your beetle crushing, I need to rescue my rosemary from a pile of dead leaves and some over enthusiastic feverfew, but lots to use in stews, soups and roasts. Yum.

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    1. I'm SO pleased with my Polka raspberries, Janet. They're far superior to Autumn Bliss and I'll gradually phase the latter out as I get runners from Polka. I can't believe how huge my broccoli plants have got - now I remember why I've resisted growing them before! I haven't netted them - I think any holes are due to the tiny snails I'm finding rather than birds. The courgettes have finished now, no more of those beautiful yellow flowers until next year but I'm keeping a careful eye on my carrots and beetroot :) !

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  11. that pineapple sage is stunning. how could you not be happy seeign that in your garden! it's great to read about all the vegies you have going on. the zukes and the broccoli - THAT broccoli ! - look divine and delicious.

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    1. It's a beauty, isn't it! Sadly, most of the flowers have now dropped with the colder winter weather and the leaves are turning that fabulous autumn red before those go as well. There's not a lot new happening in the garden now, I could do with some of that Aussie sunshine!

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  12. I love when you plant something in hopes that it still works either early or late. Glad to see you are getting broccoli especially when you can cut it off the shopping list. I bet it tastes really good too. I love pineapple sage, I really must get another plant in. Enjoy the cooling days.

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    1. I'm not sure I'm enjoying the cooler weather, Liz, as the temps have plummeted to the point that washing put out on a dry day is still fairly wet (or stiff) after six hours in the fresh air! It's been so wet here (I know you don't want to hear that!) that it's quite easy to keep on top of weeding; I just hope that the veggies survive the colder temperatures or that we get another mild(ish) winter!

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  13. Oh the thought of that gigantic spider playing hide and seek has got me all of a quiver Caro. The rosemary beetle looks a nightmare too. I've not seen one yet but no doubt they are marching northwards at this very moment. Which erigerons are you sowing this month? Enjoy those last delicious 'Polka' pickings. I have been having problems commenting on Blogger posts recently but now using a different browser to do so fingers crossed ......

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    1. I was thinking of you as I wrote it, Anna, as I know you're not a fan of spiders! I knew you'd feel my terror! I'm sowing Erigeron karvinskianus (the one that roots into all the nooks and crannies) as there are a lot of brick walls in the garden and I always think it looks so pretty. Fingers crossed the sowings take off!

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  14. It's lovely to see so many things still blooming and veggies still producing this late in the year, though the temperature dropped suddenly here last week so I don't know how long they'll go on for now. I'd have been in a total panic if I'd seen a spider dangling from my hair. We've had some huge ones in the house this autumn, I don't mind them if they're outside where they belong, but I don't want them in my house.

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    1. Temperatures have dropped here as well, Jo. Not to the extent that you've had up North (so my son tells me) but definitely getting colder. Things haven't quite stopped growing as I've had a few more handfuls of raspberries and even had a couple of ripe physalis last week! Such a treat at this time of year. Luckily I've only seen one giant spider indoors this autumn and I managed to catch him under a glass and fling him outside! I really don't want to think about spiders lurking when I'm going to sleep!!

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